Andreas Brandal - For Einer Nielsen [Dumpsterscore Home Recordings - 2010]Einer Nielsen was a Danish medium of the first half of the last century that claimed to be able to invite physical phenomena from the spirit world, a claim that was often refuted and once led to a spell in prison. This ectoplasmic analogy is perfectly suited to this two-part sound sculpture, representing one of over ten solo releases so far this year for Norwegian Andreas Brandal, head of experimental noise label Twilight Luggage, who has been soundtracking the darkside since the late eighties.
Assembled between October 2008 and April 2009, both tracks spend over twenty minutes apiece following a similar structure: persistent, regular intonations – presumably representing the ritualistic behaviour of invocation – are maintained throughout and are joined gradually by layers of scrapes and creaks that build into squealing gears and blasting air – the aural results, perhaps, of scanning the bandwidths of the spirit world.
Part 1 opens with what sounds like bowed metal providing a low cyclical breathing, casting meditative waves throughout with graceful calm. Subtle but eerie undercurrents soon become apparent as fizzing layers of clanking activities creep through the regular, deep exhalations. As the layers of dramatic noise build, suggesting difficulties to contain strengthening energies, Brandal expertly performs a twisting morphology of timbres that acknowledges the power of contrast over all-out ear assault. While ‘Part 1’ does enter into zones of squealing varispeed chaos, they are saved until well beyond the half-way mark, providing room for a full range of suspenseful whispering, scuttling and slicing to charge the air.
Part 2 doesn’t have quite as much power to chill as its predecessor. Again, a procession-like atmosphere is cast by the slow simple rhythm of a low, crusty bass note, but the accompanying dark delicacies of amp hum, hissing air and a church organ are rapidly overcome by busy, distorted electronics that bulldoze the atmospherics. A dynamic range still survives as Brandal strips down the blistering cacophonies to reveal the metronomic bass occasionally, but the temptation to build back to the violent screeching of ripping metal can’t be resisted for long.
Viewed in this way ‘Part 2’ feels like the tourettic cousin mimicking ‘Part 1’s more stately and successful séance, but this doesn’t stop the album as a whole being a distinguished example of the theatre of sound and an ideal accompaniment for this year’s Halloween.Russell Cuzner